Thursday, June 10, 2010

Today's headlines are rarely the same as what history's judgement is going to be

Photo courtesy FaceBook
Jonathan here: Went to Stamey's for a late lunch, all by myself. I was really looking forward to three four things: a world class hot dog all the way (that's mustard, chili, onions, and Cole slaw for you northerners), an honest-to-goodness chopped BBQ sandwich, and a tall glass of sweet iced tea (otherwise known as the wine of the South).

To tell the truth, I was looking forward to spending some unhurried alone time with my brand new 2010 US Andex chart.
Image copyright Andex/Morningstar

I love charts. I can spend an hour with a good chart and come away with having had as much enjoyment (and learning as much) as reading a well-written book (for my current new favorite, shown right).

The Andex chart shows what would have happened to $1, had it been invested way back in 1926, in a bunch of different indexes representative of tangible investments (US Small Stocks, S&P500 Total Return Index, Balanced Portfolio, World Stock Markets ex US Total Return Index, Long-Term Government Bonds, 5-Year Fixed-Term Investments, 30-Day Treasury Bills, and that darned old dog, Inflation, sorry Enzo).

As if that wasn't enough, the chart also shows: median PE ratio, minimum wage, the price of a first class stamp, gold, the price of oil, prime interest rate, and inflation. That's not all: dotting the nearly 85 years of time were hundreds of events, panics, assassinations, wars, crises, bombings, collapses, deficits, unemployment, Watergate burglars, hostages, bailouts, bankruptcies, market closings. It shows the day the first international mutual fund was introduced in the US and the day John Glenn orbited the earth.

All of the above is not the half of it, you need to get a copy of the chart for yourself or drop by our office and spend an hour or two with it.  In the words of Jack Bauer, I promise you, it will lower your blood pressure and your heartbeat; two numbers that I imagine have been higher than they really ought to be. Why, because it gives you a 30,000 foot view of things and lets you know that today’s headlines are rarely the same as what history’s judgment is going to be.

It was after 2:30 when I gathered up my belongings (today's News-Record, my PDA, and my new friend the Andex Chart, when I noticed several waitresses and busboys and one cashier, who apparently had just spend the last half hour or so gawking at some guy in a Seersucker suit, eating a hot-dog and a BBQ sandwich and pouring over a chart with as many squiggly lines (and as big) as a road map. The cashier became their spokesman, she took a step toward me and peered at the chart: "I saw the market was up 175 points this morning, what it is gonna do?" "By when," I said pleasantly and sincerely, hoping to draw her out. "Oh, I don't know, I guess by when I retire," she admitted, seeing I was for real. "We have a 401(k) plan, you know."

Judging she had at least 15 more good working years on her side, I said, "Keep your head down, your heart up, and take advantage of buying more shares month in and month out." "Thanks, she said, that's just what I thought I'd do." She added, "And that's just what our guy says to do, too. You know he comes to see us when the market us up and he comes to see us when the market is down, and he always tells us the same thing. I don't know how people without an advisor do it."

"I don't either," I replied, "Put an extra scoop of ice-cream on his peach cobbler next time he comes in. And thank him for telling the truth.”

If all this volatility has you down, drop us a line, give us a call, or come by and see us.  We'll talk about risk and return and how we're guiding investors through this mess, how to turn this crisis to your advantage.  It never hurts to have a second set of eyes, especially in this environment. 

And then we can go to Stamey's and enjoy a hot dog and a BBQ sandwich and a sweet iced tea.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

You Think You're Paying Too Much In Taxes?

Justin here. For all its quirks, it's hard to find a better (and cheaper) place to easily track what you spend that at On top of that, the Mint blog does an equally great job at relaying financial concepts in easy to understand methods; today's post doesn't disappoint.

Note that the y-axis numbers are misaligned with the chart for some reason, but the meat of the chart is still right (for those of you who don't remember, the "y" axis is the vertical axis, also known as the "yo-yo" axis because it goes up and down . . . how about that?)

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