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  • Tom Allen and Mark Hebner

    How Accurate Are JP Morgan's Capital Market Assumptions?

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, June 16, 2017

    JP Morgan publishes their annual “Long-Term Capital Market Assumptions” report every year with the hopes of providing professionals guidance in terms of what we should expect from markets over the next 10 to 15 years. On its face, being able to accurately forecast ...Read More

  • Time for the Fire Drill

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    by Mark Hebner — Monday, April 10, 2017

    Most of us remember the days at school when we had our routine fire drill. The fire alarms around the school would ring, we would all calmly and collectedly stand up, form a line, and walk out of the school to a safe place. While I am sure many ...Read More

  • Uselessness of Market Prediction Using Simple Logic

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Wednesday, December 7, 2016

    “You make more money selling advice than following it. It’s one of those things we count on in the magazine business—along with the short term memory of our readers.” – Steve Forbes, publisher of Forbes Magazine It is officially that time of the ...Read More

  • Trying to Avoid the "This Time Is Different" Mentality

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    by Mark Hebner — Thursday, November 3, 2016

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” – Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr   We have all said it before. Whether it comes to our finances or any other situation that involves what seems like a high degree of uncertainty, we are all predisposed to ...Read More

  • Presidential Elections and the Stock Market

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    by Dimensional Fund Advisors — Monday, October 3, 2016

    Next month, Americans will head to the polls to elect the next president of the United States. While the outcome is unknown, one thing is for certain: There will be a steady stream of opinions from pundits and prognosticators about how the election will impact the stock market. ...Read More

  • Luck vs. Skill: An Update!

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Thursday, August 25, 2016

    The active fund industry is a marketing machine; ready to pitch short term outperformance as an indication of manager skill. Investors subsequently make a large allocation to these “winners” and more often than not end up earning less than stellar performance ...Read More

  • Closing the Behavior Gap

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Monday, July 25, 2016

    “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein Market timing is and has been one of the most disastrous investment ideas to plague our world. This isn’t due to some natural absolute law like ...Read More

  • Market Efficiency & Behavioral Biases

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, June 28, 2016

    One of the most misunderstood tenants of the efficient market hypothesis (EMH) has to do with assumption that all decisions made by market participants are rational. In other words, the millions of people who are buying and selling securities act as robots where they are ...Read More

  • What Jack Bogle Does With a 10% Market Drop: Absolutely Nothing!

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Friday, January 22, 2016

    In a recent interview with CNBC, founder of Vanguard, Jack Bogle, tells investors do just “stand still,” amid the recent 10% drop in US markets. Highlights include maintaining the same savings behavior for retirement plan participants, the superiority of index ...Read More

  • 2016: Ten Predictions to Count On

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    by Jim Parker — Wednesday, January 13, 2016

    The New Year is a customary time to speculate. In a digital age, when past forecasts are available online, market and media professionals find it harder to hide their blushes when their financial predictions go awry. But there are ways around that. The ignominy that goes with ...Read More

  • The Market Knows Best: Federal Reserve Raises Rates

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, January 5, 2016

    Well there you have it folks. The Federal Reserve finally took action to increase the Federal Funds Rate. The catastrophe that was anticipated by many financial pundits ended up being what seemed like no news at all. How could this possibly be? While many market participants ...Read More

  • The Devil's Financial Dictionary

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    by Mark Hebner — Monday, December 7, 2015

    Jason Zweig is one of the few financial journalists who writes articles and books that actually contribute an investor's success in capturing the returns that markets have to offer. His books include  ...Read More

  • Second-Hand News

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    by Jim Parker — Friday, December 4, 2015

    Why don’t the media run more good news? One view is bad news sells. If people preferred good news, the media would supply it. But markets don’t see news as necessarily good or bad, rather in terms of what is already built into prices. One academic study appears to ...Read More

  • Should Investors Sell After a "Correction"?

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    by Weston Wellington — Thursday, September 17, 2015

    Stock prices in markets around the world fluctuated dramatically for the week ended August 27. On Monday, August 24, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,089 points—a larger loss than the “Flash Crash” in May 2010—before rallying to close down 588. ...Read More

  • The Patience Principle

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    by Jim Parker — Friday, August 28, 2015

    Global markets are providing investors a rough ride at the moment, as the focus turns to China’s economic outlook. But while falling markets can be worrisome, maintaining a longer term perspective makes the volatility easier to handle. A typical response to unsettling ...Read More

  • When Times Are Turbulent – Invest and Relax

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    by Tom Allen and Mark Hebner — Tuesday, August 25, 2015

    No doubt the recent volatility in the market place has investors unnerved. Friends, family, neighbors, work colleagues, are all giving their opinion on where we stand and what will happen in the near ...Read More

  • IFA Client Study - Maximizing Your Return Relative to a Benchmark [VIDEO]

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    by Mark Hebner — Tuesday, July 28, 2015

    What has been the value of following or not following the advice of Index Fund Advisors (IFA), regardless of what happens in the financial markets? A similar question was addressed by Vanguard Research in their Advisor’s Alpha article, where they estimated ...Read More

  • What Greece Means for Investors

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    by Mark Hebner — Tuesday, June 30, 2015

    Like a slow-motion glacier melting into a rushing river, it would appear that the markets have been swept into a period of heightened global uncertainty driven by a long-looming Greek debt crisis. If you’d like to understand the key factors involved in this economic ...Read More

  • A Simulation of the Random Nature of Stock Prices

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    by Mark Hebner — Tuesday, April 28, 2015

    Many measurements seem random, such as the heights of humans, the length of leaves, the roll of 5 dice, and the change of stock market prices. But when academics, statisticians and mathematicians view the world, they see patterns that others do not ...Read More

  • IFA Introduces a New Interactive Chart on the Predictability of Returns

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Tuesday, December 23, 2014

    Does knowing what happened in the recent past with returns of index funds help you predict the future? We explore that question in the new interactive chart below. It allows you to choose one of four IFA Index Portfolios and one of six time period lengths for a total ...Read More

  • How to Improve Your Economic Forecast

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    Knowing that we at Index Fund Advisors do not engage in economic forecasting, you can safely assume that the above title is meant to be facetious, just like this Wall Street Journal opinion piece titled “Government Forecasters Might as Well Use a Ouija Board” by ...Read More

  • A Look Back at a Classic (and Prescient) Investment Speech

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Monday, September 8, 2014

    “Trying Too Hard” is the title of the 1981 keynote speech delivered by Dean Williams of Batterymarch Financial Management to the Financial Analysts Federation Seminar. Unlike most other investment speeches whose age is measured in decades, this one is 100% relevant ...Read More

  • CAPE Fear: Valuation Ratios and Market Timing

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    by Weston Wellington — Friday, September 5, 2014

    As broad market indices such as the S&P 500 have set new record highs in recent weeks, many investors have become apprehensive. They fear another major decline is likely to occur and are eager to find strategies that promise to avoid the pain of an extended downturn while ...Read More

  • Q&A with IFA: Do Fundamentals Tell Us When Stocks Are Overpriced?

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Tuesday, September 2, 2014

    Question: In their book Valuing Wall Street published in early 2000, Andrew Smithers and Stephen Wright claim that the Q ratio popularized by Nobel laureate James Tobin reliably identifies periods of extreme overvaluation and undervaluation in stock prices. ...Read More

  • Q&A with IFA: Market Timing with Moving Averages

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Friday, July 18, 2014

    Question: Some researchers argue that a market timing strategy based on buy/sell signals generated by a 50- or 200-day moving average offers a more appealing combination of risk and return than a buy-and-hold approach. What is your view? Note: The question above was originally ...Read More

  • The Big Tease Continues

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Tuesday, March 11, 2014

    Take a walk past the financial section of your local newsstand, and you are likely to be greeted with headlines like “Ten Hot Stock Picks for 2014!” or “The Top Ten Mutual Funds to Buy Today!” or getting more directly to the point, “Make Money ...Read More

  • The Gambler's Fallacy and the Misuse of the Law of Large Numbers

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Friday, February 21, 2014

    If you have ever spent any time in a casino, it is likely that you have seen supposedly random events that appeared to be non-random. Perhaps the roulette wheel came up red seven times in a row, for example. If your reaction was to place a large bet on ...Read More

  • Surprise! No Selloff in 2013

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    by Weston Wellington — Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    The unusually strong performance of US stocks in 2013 was a welcome surprise for investors who are following a simple buy-and-hold strategy and a source of exasperation for many professionals caught flatfooted by the steady rise in share prices. It was the best year for the ...Read More

  • Tactical Asset Allocation: The Market-Timing Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

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    by IFA Contributors — Wednesday, January 1, 2014

    Borrowing the definition from a recent Vanguard study, "Tactical asset allocation (TAA) is a dynamic strategy that actively adjusts a portfolio's strategic asset allocation (SAA) based on short-term market forecasts. Its objective is to systematically exploit inefficiencies or ...Read More

  • President Index Funds Advisors

    The Resilience of Capitalism

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    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, January 1, 2014

    As of the end of 2013, the S&P 500 Index has not only fully recovered from the 51% drop that began in late 2007 and lasted through March of 2009, it has actually gained 37% beyond the high point in 2007, equating to an annualized return of 5.3%. We ...Read More

  • A Retrospective on 2013 Predictions

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Tuesday, December 31, 2013

    “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” -Nils Bohr   “Stocks are about to plunge, Wells Fargo warns.” According to strategist Gina Martin Adams, the S&P 500 should now be at 1,440, which would be a 16% drop from ...Read More

  • Many Happy Returns

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    by Jim Parker — Monday, December 23, 2013

    It’s that time of the year when the talking heads of television and the prognosticators of print issue their sage outlooks for the coming 12 months. While this crystal ball gazing is always entertaining, it becomes even more so a year later. In journalism, this is known as ...Read More

  • A Time to Remember—especially if you are a market timer

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    by Mary Brunson — Monday, November 18, 2013

    Do you ever have those moments when a flashback occurs, and you recoil from a shiver sent down your spine? I had that moment today when I looked briefly at the 5-year chart of the S&P 500, shown below:   What caused that visceral shiver was not the impressive ...Read More

  • Much Ado about Nothing

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    As we noted in our review of the third quarter, the market essentially shrugged off the government shutdown that began on midnight of September 30th. The far bigger issue appeared to be the looming October 17th deadline for raising the debt ceiling limit. There were a lot of ...Read More

  • When a Great Economist Attempted to Time the Market – A Cautionary Tale [VIDEO]

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    by Mark Hebner and IFA Contributors — Wednesday, September 18, 2013

    One of our favorite sources of investing-related videos is sensibleinvesting.tv which is operated and financed by Barnett Ravenscroft Wealth Management based in Birmingham, England. We find them to be both highly informative and entertaining as well. One of their recent videos ...Read More

  • Thoughts on Time Picking

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    by Mark Hebner — Tuesday, August 6, 2013

    There seems to be universal agreement among investment experts that time picking is futile. Even so, it is not unusual for these same experts to actively tout its ...Read More

  • Missing the Best and Worst Days

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    by Mark Hebner — Friday, August 2, 2013

    Big down days and big up days frequently come right next to each other. This is volatility—and it is why you have to stay in the markets to get the markets’ superior ...Read More

  • The Random Walk of Stock Prices

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    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    The Random Walk Theory essentially states that there are no discernible patterns in stock market prices. The logic and reasoning goes like ...Read More

  • Books of the Doomsday Genre: Read This before You Read One of Them

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    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    While we at Index Funds Advisors, Inc. do not dismiss the bleak scenario envisioned by the authors of books such as Aftershock or The Day after the Dollar Crashes as completely implausible, there are a number of problems with books of this doomsday genre that deserve ...Read More

  • Harry M. Markowitz

    What to do about the Financial Transparency Crisis

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    by Harry M. Markowitz — Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    The current financial crisis is a combination of three ill winds that combined to make the “perfect” storm. One ill wind is the bursting of the real estate bubble; the second is the ongoing consequences of the ...Read More

  • IFA's Quote of the Week - 29 (Benjamin Graham)

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    by Mark Hebner / Mary Brunson — Friday, August 1, 2008

    "The investor with a portfolio of sound stocks should expect their prices to fluctuate and should neither be concerned by sizable declines nor become excited by sizable advances. He should always remember that market quotations are there for his ...Read More

  • IFA's Quote of the Week - 4 (William Bernstein)

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    by Mark Hebner / Mary Brunson — Monday, January 28, 2008

    William Bernstein's quote conveys two important messages. First, he articulates an investor's inability to successfully profit from predicting the short-term future movements of the stock market. Second, and equally important, Bernstein sheds light on the ...Read More

  • IFA's Quote of the Week - 2 (Burton Malkiel)

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    by Mark Hebner / Mary Brunson — Monday, January 14, 2008

    This witticism uncovered by Burton Malkiel introduces Chapter 11 of his enduring classic A Random Walk Down Wall Street. This section of Malkiel's book rallies support for Eugene Fama's Efficient Market ...Read More

  • Feel the Rush of Trading ETFs

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    by Richard Evans — Friday, May 17, 2002

    On May 14, when the markets shot up for the second day in a row, did you feel an urge to get in on the action? Yes, I know we all have our standard asset allocation related to our age and so forth. And we're supposed to just let it be. But that's like ...Read More

  • Will McClatchy

    Bogle Cautions Indexers on ETF Speculation

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    by Will McClatchy — Wednesday, December 5, 2001

    Vanguard's founder denounced the speculative appeal of exchange traded funds before the largest annual US gathering of indexing faithful, who took the message to heart but felt that it understated how speculative interest benefits the long-term ...Read More

  • Will McClatchy

    Panic sellers did not profit on Monday

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    by Will McClatchy — Monday, September 17, 2001

    After watching today's low closing prices, US equity investors who held onto stocks out of patriotism today might have felt a bit foolish. In reality they did just fine. Everyone in the US market got hit today, and selling on the morning the markets ...Read More

  • Buying Value In ETFs Amidst a Beaten-Down Technology Sector

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    by Max Issacman — Friday, February 16, 2001

    Yes, the Nasdaq market is down, but here's the multi-trillion dollar question: Is the market down enough? Since its high early in 2000, the Nasdaq 100 Index is down about 50%. Is this correction enough justification for the cuts in sales and estimated ...Read More