When Views Differ: Wall Street Vs. Main Street

July 25, 2014

I was lucky enough to have lunch yesterday with the chief market strategist for a major Wall Street bank. In addition to being an experienced and intelligent observer of the financial markets and economy, he is also a great guy.

Our conversation was a great opportunity to compare two views of the world: Wall Street vs. Main Street.

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Where to Put the Money? How About Prepaying Your Mortgage

July 24, 2014

The dilemma many investors face, when looking at today’s markets, is simple: Where can I put my money? Markets are overvalued, and bonds sure look like a bubble, but I have to do something with the cash. I can’t just let it sit there, right?

I get it, but I don’t necessarily agree that you need to do something. Many great investors see sitting on their hands when market conditions are unfavorable as a key to their success. In poker, you make your money by not betting on bad hands. The value of the optionality associated with cash is, in my opinion, underrated.

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Why Investors Should Ask "Am I Proud of This Decision?"

July 23, 2014

To follow up on my recent posts, there’s another question I’d like to ask the person (or committee) that decided to outsource Tufts University’s early education program: Are you proud of this decision? Did you go home and announce to your own family what you had done? If the answer is no, what does that say about the quality of the decision?

This is also an important question to ask yourself in an investment context.

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In Life and Investing, Using the Wrong Map Will Get You Lost

July 22, 2014

I’ve been thinking about Tufts University's decision to outsource its early education program, and why I feel so strongly about it. It’s not that I’m directly affected—Jackson will be finishing up there this summer before the transition. And it’s not that I’d necessarily disagree with the decision if I knew all the facts.

Besides the impact on people I like and respect, the thing that bothers me is that the decision makers seem to have focused on the wrong issues. Whenever you focus on the wrong things, any decision you make—however justified in terms of those wrong things—will turn out wrong.

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Higher Education Surrenders to the Enemy

July 21, 2014

My wife and I have been incredibly fortunate over the past three years to have our son, Jackson, enrolled in a Tufts University-sponsored day care/kindergarten program. The faculty, the curriculum, and the entire experience have been outstanding, and Jackson has benefited noticeably. Tufts students also benefit from the opportunity to volunteer and mentor the children.

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How Long Can Markets Ignore the Real World?

July 18, 2014

Yesterday, we saw a passenger airliner shot down over what is arguably Europe. We saw an invasion launched as missiles rained down on civilian towns. And, in far less devastating news, we saw equity markets decline.

The Ukraine conflict has been simmering for months; the Middle East has been in conflict for decades. Still, yesterday's news came as a surprise, knocking markets down.

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What Do Tax Inversions and the BRICS Bank Have in Common?

July 17, 2014

Today, I want to discuss two timely topics that are more interrelated than they seem. One is the growing trend of tax inversions, whereby U.S. companies change their legal structure to avoid or reduce their tax exposure. The other is the launch of a new development bank capitalized by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa)—a rival to the traditional international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the IMF. 

What’s the common denominator here? Both developments suggest we need to rethink some long-held assumptions about how the world works.

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Certain sections of this commentary contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks and uncertainties, which are difficult to predict. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. All indices are unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly into an index.

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