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Six Ways to Tell the Difference Between Real and Pretend Investors

Author: Scott Krajacic

Going Global

Have you found yourself asking, “Who cares about diversification? Shouldn’t I put everything in the US market?” Here are a few reminders as to why we go global with our clients. 

It’s no secret the US market has performed exceptionally well over the past several years. Still, as the saying goes, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one (market) basket.

  • The US market hasn’t been the best performer this year. Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and Norway all outperformed the US market in the third quarter of 2020, with Sweden pulling ahead of the US by almost 8%. In fact, over the past year, Sweden has outperformed the US market by 12.7%.
  • There’s no reasonable way to predict which country’s market will outperform and when. Less than a year ago, Finland, for example, went from the third worst-performing market to the third-best market this past quarter.
  • Guessing wrong could have a significant impact on returns. The difference between the best performing developed market (Sweden) and the worst-performing market (Portugal) was 20.7%. The gap was even wider amongst emerging markets, with 30.5% separating India at the top of the list and Turkey at the bottom.

The Great Debate – Election Years vs. the Stock Market

Whether your political views are right, left, or somewhere in between, you should check out this video. Election years tend to heighten everyone’s anxiety. This video does a great job of helping us as investors understand what to do.

As changes to tax reform, foreign policy, and social issues loom, it’s totally natural to be tempted to make short-term portfolio changes to profit from the uncertainty, or to minimize losses. But, as we know, markets are extremely efficient at processing new information and adjusting prices based on future expectations, so research would tell us any fears or expectations about the results of the presidential election are already baked in.

So, what’s a savvy investor to do? Our friends at Dimensional Funds skillfully reframe the perspective provided by the regular media.

Going back to 1928, when Herbert Hoover was elected president over Al Smith, the S&P 500 has returned on average 11.3% during election years and 9.9% in the subsequent year. In fact, there have been only three presidents in history that have seen negative returns in the stock market over their presidential tenure: Herbert Hoover during the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression, and George W. Bush in the 2000s during a time known as the Lost Decade.

Our takeaway? Make sure your investment plan fits your goals and stick with it. No matter what the regular media is saying, the data shows whoever is in the White House is unlikely to negatively impact the long-term value of your nest egg.

Better Inflation Protector – Gold or Stocks?

“Gold is stupid. But selling stocks to buy gold is beyond stupid; it’s historically insane.”

While we would be hard-pressed to call anyone stupid, we do share in the general sentiments of author and speaker, Nick Murray: that the recent gold rush may be over-extended and not the most logical move for investors playing the long game.

Let us share some context to help explain.

Fiscal and monetary policies that were enacted this year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic have sparked a growing concern with how these large amounts of debt will ultimately be repaid. A rise in tax rates is certainly possible, but a more prominent fear we hear among investors is an uptick in inflationary pressure. This is leaving many to seek a safe haven beyond the traditional stock market.

This year alone gold has seen an increase of 30%, but as recency bias would show us, many seem to have forgotten the dismal performance of the 80s and 90s. During this 20-year stretch gold had returned -2.8% per year while inflation rose at a steady 4%. Not much of an inflation hedge especially when compared to the S&P 500 Index that returned almost 18% per year over the same period. When we look at even longer periods of time we find that by participating in the stock market an investor would have earned almost 3 times as much as gold.* How’s that for an inflation hedge?

Maybe Nick’s words are a little harsh for some, but you can see why we’re not ready to abandon our philosophy for the hot investment du jour.

*From January 1970 – June 2020

Hill Investment Group