Hedge funds are periodically in the news, so let’s shine a light into that corner of the market beginning with a definition. When used as a verb, hedge means to limit or qualify (something) by conditions or exceptions. Since we know that a fund is a pooled investment strategy, we can see that a hedge fund is a pooled investment used to limit risk.
If an investor decides that stock ownership seems like a workable strategy for making money over time, how does she or he decide which company to become an owner of, i.e. which stock to purchase? Choices abound. There are shares of around 8,000 companies currently available on US exchanges and at least that many more on foreign exchanges.
A recently widowed woman visited our office not long ago asking for help understanding her investment portfolio. Fortunately, she was in good financial shape but I was struck by some of her questions. While I strive for clarity both in person and in print, at one point she asked me what an index fund was.
Over the years I’ve been involved in the world of investments, I’ve found that my clients have been able to make money in all three of stocks, bonds and real estate, though rarely at the same time. Since no one knows the best time to invest in any one of them, we encourage most of our clients to use all of them.
During the past seven years or so, interest rates have fallen to generational, if not all-time, lows. Here’s a chart showing the rate of the two year Treasury Note over that period courtesy of the Department of the Treasury:
I’ve heard that you can tell whether someone is an optimist or a pessimist by their answer to the question “Which do you want first, the good news or the bad?” I’ve started a couple of businesses during my working life, something that’s almost always associated with optimism. Yet my usual response to that question is to ask for the bad news first.
One of the small mysteries of my life is how my articles come into being. Sometimes I’m asked a question that seems like it might be of wider interest. Sometimes I read a book which I think others might find interesting. Sometimes a title forms itself in my mind and the article just follows.
Since my beard has long been completely white there’s not much I can do to disguise my age. That being the case, there’s probably little further embarrassment in letting you know that I watched both Andy Rooney and Gilda Radner’s character “Emily Litella” on live television. What did these two have in common?
I’m turning to the Bard for the title of 2014’s first message because there are articles everywhere right now offering forecasts for the upcoming year. I never try that myself because I know I can’t predict the future. Instead, I thought I’d reflect a bit on the past to see what lessons we might learn.