Episode 103 is a solo-Meb show.
We just finished a short paper that references the old nutritional “Food Pyramid” published by the FDA a couple decades ago. Given what we’ve learned about health-conscious eating in the years since, that old guideline now seems a bit off-base. In the same way, the investing wisdom of yesteryear now seems similarly misguided. Meb walks us through the white paper that delves into these ideas in this short, just-Meb episode, identifying how his “Investment Pyramid” looks today.
Also, most of Meb’s books are now free! Just click here.
Get all the details in Episode 103.
Episode 102 has a radio show format. In this one, we cover Meb’s Tweets of the Week, some write-in questions, Twitter questions, and our first-ever call-in question.
We discuss the “Stay Rich” portfolio, and the unfortunate reality that even the safest portfolios can suffer ~25% drawdowns.
Next, there’s discussion of stock buybacks and a recent push from Senator Tammy Baldwin to introduce a bill that would prohibit companies from repurchasing their own shares (she claims it’s exacerbating the wealth gap).
Then, with volatility showing some life in the market, there’s discussion of volatility clustering. Next up is the investing service, Robinhood, which is now referring to calls and puts as “going up” and “going down.” Also, an ETF for companion pets filed by Gabelli.
We then dive into questions. Some that you’ll hear Meb address include:
All this and more in Episode 102.
In Episode 101, we welcome the great educator, Paul Merriman.
We start with Paul’s background; specifically, the story of an early trading experience with commodities. He doubled his money in days…and then lost everything on the very next trade.
Then the guys dive in, with Meb bringing up something Paul wrote called “The Ultimate Buy & Hold Portfolio” and asking for more detail. Paul starts with the S&P which, even with all its up-and-downs, has done great over the years. But then he walks us through some tweaks – adding large cap, then small cap – he notes the various percentage returns added by each, as well as the effect on volatility. He eventually arrives at a final portfolio, showing us the power of this diversification.
Meb points the conversation toward the behavioral benefit of diversification and says how some listeners will wonder how much money to put into each of the asset classes Paul had identified. Paul tells us he originally put 10% into 10 different asset classes – after all, if each asset class is worthy, then he wants it to be in his portfolio; especially because there’s no way to be certain which one(s) will shine going forward.
Agreeing, Meb touches on being “asset class agnostic” and notes that the problem with being, say, a “gold guy” or any die-hard type of investor, is you get wedded to that asset class. This emotional bond can lead to bad behavior. This leads to a discussion about implementation and the challenges of emotional investing. Paul tells us “I don’t want my emotions to have anything to do with how (my) money is managed.”
The conversation drifts toward the benefits of investing early, yet the challenges of educating young people as to its importance, as well as different investing needs over a lifetime. The guys note how the best thing for a young person would be the markets tanking for 10 years. Of course, that would be terrible for an older investor in/near retirement. This bleeds into a conversation about formally educating the younger generation about investing.
A bit later, Meb asks about the older investor who might have been burned in ’08, is now near retirement, thinks the U.S. market is expensive, yet needs results. What about him? Paul walks us through the realities of losses and gives us his overall thoughts. This morphs into a common question we get – invest everything at once, or drip it in over time? Paul has some thoughts on how to do this in a way that balances math and emotions.
There’s tons more in this episode (it’s one of our longest to date): the challenge of investing in the “shiny object”… how to avoid getting screwed by your advisor… investment newsletters… buy-and-hold versus market timing… the critical nature of understanding past performance… giving money to grandkids… and of course, Paul’s most memorable trade; his involves the ’87 crash.
What are the details? Find out in Episode 101.
To celebrate the milestone of reaching 100 episodes, we’re thrilled to welcome Professor Elroy Dimson, author of Meb’s favorite investing book of all time, Triumph of the Optimists.
Per Meb’s request, Elroy starts by giving us a summation of his research history which led to Triumph of the Optimists. He had a heritage in producing indexes and began reaching out to researchers across the globe in hopes of accessing different data sets. Looking at all the aggregated data, it became clear that from a long-term perspective, people who had invested in risky securities at the beginning of the century had done very well. People who had bought bonds and T-bills had not performed as well. The optimists had triumphed.
Next, Meb brings up a quote from Elroy about a controversial finding regarding the lack of correlation between economic growth and stock market performance. If anything, the relationship was reverse. Elroy expounds upon this, telling us that if it’s obvious that a market is growing, that’s public information. You can’t trade that since everyone else knows too. So, if you investing in countries where GDP has been growing, that could mean you’re too late.
Meb steers the conversation toward valuation, market cap weightings, and home country bias. Elroy walks us through the market cap concept, touching on the historical Austrian empire as well as the Japanese bubble. This leads to a lesson in finance, which includes real yields today, the Gordon Model, the multiple people are willing to pay today (which is higher), and the takeaway that “high valuations don’t necessarily mean that we’re going to see asset prices collapse” – they’re a reflection of the low interest rates we have today.
Meb asks about bonds, and whether Elroy has seen another historical period of negative yielding sovereigns. When you look at real rates, how does it play out for future returns?
Elroy tells us that real (inflation adjusted) rates are better to consider than nominal rates. And it turns out, real rates have been lower. Negative real rates are not all that rare – what is rare is so many countries experiencing them at the same time. This dovetails into a conversation about inflation and currency hedging. Elroy provides some color on currency issues but notes that hedging is not required if you’re a long-term investor.
There’s plenty more in this centennial episode: factors… growth stocks versus value stocks… historical returns of housing… even stamps, musical instruments and the investment returns of a good Bordeaux.
How does it compare to that of equities? Find out in Episode 100.