The Washington Post recently outlined four possible outcomes of a Brexit, or British exit from the European Union. Barring the assassination of another British politician, campaigning is expected to resume this weekend and a vote is to take place next week on June 23rd. As the initial article states, an exit for Britain will result in further negotiations over its relationship with the EU (as well as non-EU countries), referred to by the author as the “terms of divorce”. Ahhh, parting is such sweet sorrow. A Brexit raises many questions. How will trade function? How will market volatility be affected? How will currencies fluctuate? What will happen with the EU citizens living in Britain and the British citizens living in the EU? How will specific areas currently under the authority of the EU, such as agricultural policies, be impacted? Currently there are no answers or plans, only models to feed off, and none of them paint an ideal future. So, how to hedge a Brexit? In the face of uncertainty and volatility, below are three ways one can attempt to hedge a British exit from the EU. Continue reading

gold pendulumGold is often touted as a must-have investment for the most intense of risk-mitigation situations, a “when all else fails” hedging instrument. Indeed, pick an ailment: Inflation? Hedge with gold. Economic and political crises? Hedge with gold. Collapse of modern society? Say it with me, folks, “Hedge with gold”. With the global economy as shaky as it is, multiple countries in one crisis or another, and plenty of uncertainty as to what the future holds to go around, gold continues to make the rounds as a necessary holding despite the fact that its value in US dollar terms has been steadily declining over the last four years after reaching a peak in 2011 of almost $1,900 an ounce. In the wake of the Fed’s recent decision to stand pat on interest rates and gold’s subsequent jump today, here are 3 reasons to avoid gold, both as a physical or paper holding, apart from a very small percentage of a well-balanced and diversified passive or lazy investment portfolio:

  • It’s a highly emotional and psychological asset
  • There’s no historical evidence that it hedges well against any risk
  • It has very little practical use

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pile of us dollarsWhy is the US dollar so strong these days, and what is the significance? Well, unless you’ve been reading financial news, traveling, living outside of the United States, or really paying strict attention to the cost of all the imported goods you buy, perhaps you haven’t even realized that the $USD has been on a tear in forex markets. But, I’m guessing a good number of you have noticed or have an inkling at least that the currency these days has been bulking up considerably. What’s going on? Is it a new trainer? Mega amounts of egg protein and creatine? Performance-enhancing drugs? The answer lies somewhere between central bank actions and investor sentiment. Continue reading

This week marked the five-year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act being signed into law. The act is still not complete as parts of it are under review or yet to be written, but it is the biggest piece of consumer protection legislation to be passed since the legislation that was approved following the 1929 crash, including the US Banking Act of 1933 that contained the famous Glass-Steagall provisions. To commemorate this anniversary, Better Markets, a financial watchdog organization, assembled a report that details, among other things, the cost of the 2008 crisis. Continue reading

mount-merapi-113620_1280To say that there are some serious headwinds that we as the collective investment community must face these days is putting it lightly. Between financial downturns and outright crises including Japan’s return to recession, Greece’s distaste for austerity, and Russia’s woes with sanctions, collapsing energy prices, and a devastated ruble; the perceived need (not unanimous) for quantitative easing (QE) in Europe eclipsing $1 trillion EUR; stark observations that the world economy is shrinking; and the actions of central banks that catch us on the toilet such as that of Switzerland removing the cap on its currency vis-á-vis the Euro, there is much to digest. How do you protect and defend your financial positions, your financial worth, your current and future holdings against such startling occurrences and circumstances? How do you protect and defend your financial, and hence personal, goals? You can do so by ensuring that you are passively invested in a well-diversified portfolio of broad-based assets with low intercorrelations, in-line with your true risk profile and investment horizon, and take advantage of the might it affords you. Continue reading

scary parallel chartFor some reason (probably just because fear sells), a particular chart has been making the rounds of late. It draws a “scary parallel” between the recent performance of the DJIA and that of the same prior to the 1929 crash, implying that a significant decline is impending (maybe). Already just this month three analysts over at The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch have penned at least four articles inspired by the graphic (including this retort), after it first appeared in the McClellan Market Report in late November, and more articles than that have been posted since the start of December. What should you do about it? Continue reading