Articles (1,627)


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Amsterdam: Where It All Began

by IFA Contributors
Monday, August 13, 2012

In his magnificent work, The Birth of Plenty—How the Prosperity of the Modern World Was Created, William Bernstein outlines the four necessary conditions for the massive growth of wealth experienced over the past two centuries: the securing of property rights, the ...Read More

Article Library

  • Pension-Gate Continues - Maryland has been Called Out

    by IFA Contributors — Monday, August 6, 2012

    Index Funds Advisors, Inc. has repeatedly called attention to the scandalous waste of money on active management by state retirement systems. Last week, The Maryland Public Policy Institute and the Maryland Tax Education Foundation issued a report by Jeff Hooke and Michael ...Read More

  • Caught Short! A Saga of Wailing Wall Street

    by IFA Contributors — Thursday, August 2, 2012

    Continuing with our series of blogs on books in the financial humor genre, we will take a quick look at Caught Short—A Saga of Wailing Wall Street by the iconic singer, dancer, actor, comedian, and songwriter, Eddie Cantor. Published in November of 1929 (one month after ...Read More

  • Brad Steiman

    The Greatest Hits of Investing

    by Brad Steiman — Friday, July 27, 2012

      For more than a decade, I have had the privilege of hearing many colleagues discuss the fundamentals of investing in simple and effective ways. Everyone puts their own words and music to this set of ideas, but the following are what I consider the top ten greatest hits, ...Read More

  • Jim Parker

    The Cost of Safety

    by Jim Parker — Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Investors are now so risk averse they are willing to pay the German government to look after their money; not a risk-free return, but a return-free risk. Yields on two-year German notes sank to an all-time low of -0.005% on June 1. Looked at another way, anxious investors were ...Read More

  • Pop Quiz

    by Weston Wellington — Sunday, July 15, 2012

    Question: The twenty-two prominent firms listed below share a common characteristic. What is it? Answer: If you guessed each firm is a constituent of the S&P 500 Index, you would have been close—but ...Read More

  • Brendan Connelly

    Retirement Plan Shadows

    by Brendan Connelly — Thursday, July 12, 2012

    How to Win Your Battle against the Money Management Machine     "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." —Upton Sinclair, The Jungle, 1906   "Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is ...Read More

  • Credit Ratings vs. Market Pricing

    by Dimensional Fund Advisors — Friday, June 29, 2012

    In the highly competitive financial markets, most "news" has already been incorporated into prices. Dimensional takes advantage of the information embedded in prices, rather than relying on third parties rating ...Read More

  • A Busy Week in the World of High Finance

    by IFA Contributors — Thursday, June 28, 2012

    This is one of those weeks where we have so many juicy stories that I truly don’t know where to begin. How about another Madoff story? At last, we have the long-awaited and so richly deserved punishment of ten years in the slammer for Peter Madoff, the brother of ...Read More

  • Actively Managed Funds Continue to Lose Market Share

    by IFA Contributors — Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Recently, when I was browsing the Morningstar Website, I stumbled upon a video titled “What’s Driving Investors Away From Actively Managed Funds?” In the interview with Christine Benz, Morningstar’s editorial director Kevin McDevitt states: “If you ...Read More

  • Reaching for Yield: Junk and Other High-Risk Bonds

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    In this concluding article in the series exploring different ways investors might attempt to increase the income generated by their portfolios, we look at high-yield bonds. These securities offer a higher coupon payment than Treasuries and investment-grade corporate bonds at the ...Read More

  • Investing Anomalies

    by Roger Trinwith — Monday, June 25, 2012

    Investing is historically chock-full of strategies based on absurd anomalies. These include the January effect, the Super Bowl Indicator, the Harvard MBA Indicator, and “Sell in May and Go Away.”  If you take a large number of “indicators” (I wince ...Read More

  • When Truth is Stranger than Fiction

    by IFA Contributors — Monday, June 25, 2012

    Once in a while, when I need a topic to write about, I browse the latest press releases from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). When looking today, however, even I had to do a double-take when I saw the headline, “SEC Charges Florida Broker in Astrology-Based ...Read More

  • "Index Funds" by Mark Hebner - A Gem

    by Taylor Larimore (guest author) — Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    "Index Funds" by Mark Hebner - A Gem by Taylor Larimore (guest author) Mark Hebner’s updated Index Funds is a beautiful little book full of colorful pictures, complex charts and multi-fund portfolios (not Boglehead simplicity). Mr. Hebner shares my ...Read More

  • Index-Fund Investing: Revisiting a Piece of Investment History

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    In August of 1976, while everyone was dreading the potential epidemic of Legionnaires’ disease, Nobel Laureate Paul A. Samuelson wrote a now famous column in Newsweek titled, “Index-Fund Investing.”1 Samuelson noted the ascendancy of index funds based on ...Read More

  • Naked Short-Selling: Two Big Wall Street Firms Get Exposed

    by IFA Contributors — Monday, June 4, 2012

    Normally, when you make a mistake, you choke down a slice of humble pie and life goes on. On rare occasion, however, there are mistakes so egregious that you just want to put a bag over your head and pretend that you don’t exist. This must be how the ...Read More

  • Book Collector

    by Guest Author: Farzam Khassian — Tuesday, May 29, 2012

    Book collector Farzam Khassian shares his thoughts on his hobby of collecting rare investment and financial books. He has collected more than 1,000 financial books over the years and has inspired Mark Hebner to also start collecting these treasures. It is interesting to note ...Read More

  • IFA’s Concerns with IPOs

    by IFA Contributors — Thursday, May 24, 2012

    While some may accuse us of hindsight for writing this blog during the unfolding of the Facebook IPO debacle in which $12.8 billion of shareholder value has been wiped out as of 5/23/2012, Index Funds Advisors, Inc. has long advised our clients not to buy IPO shares after they ...Read More

  • Jim Parker

    Sharing the Wealth: The Case for Equities

    by Jim Parker — Thursday, May 24, 2012

    Quiz Question: What do these companies have in common: Whitbread of the United Kingdom, Molson Coors of North America, Qantas of Australia, Honda of Japan, and Adidas of Germany? Yes, they all deliver consumer products and services. Whitbread is in hospitality, Molson Coors is ...Read More

  • A Big Bang for 401(k) Plans?

    by IFA Contributors — Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    Source: NASA On rare occasions, a change so profound and significant occurs in the financial world that it is given the “big bang” designation. Examples include the 1975 abolition of the fixed rate commission system in the U.S. and the drastic deregulation of the ...Read More

  • Active vs. Passive: A Deeper Look into Fixed Income

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, May 22, 2012

    "The only consistent data point we have observed over a five-year horizon is that a majority of active equity and bond managers in most categories lag comparable benchmark indices." -Standard & Poors Indices versus Active Funds (SPIVA ®) ...Read More

  • The Terrible, Horrible, Terminal, Apocalyptic National Debt Crisis

    by Nick Murray — Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Just the other day, I was at a lovely club in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, waiting to speak at a luncheon meeting of about a hundred financial advisors. Suddenly, one of the advisors came bursting out of the room where the audience was finishing their lunch, and accosted me. ...Read More

  • Mal-location of Capital

    by Roger Trinwith — Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    I used to play a lot of golf, probably far too much. When my friends would ask for advice, the number one question I would get is, “What kind of driver should I buy?” I suppose this was my introduction to the efficient mal-location, excuse me, allocation of capital. ...Read More

  • Wall Street: the other Las Vegas

    by IFA Contributors — Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    About a month ago, I wrote about Nicolas Darvas, a world famous dancer who claimed that he made $2 million in the stock market. This claim was vigorously disputed by the New York State Attorney General, Louis Lefkowitz. A write-up of the allegations against Darvas can be found ...Read More

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

    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

  • The Road to Serfdom

    by Tyler L. Collins — Sunday, April 29, 2012

    The Road to Serfdom was written by Friedrich von Hayek in 1944. Friedrich von Hayek was a prominent Austrian economist during the twentieth century, and this book was one of his most important ...Read More

  • Weston Wellington

    Where's the Party?

    by Weston Wellington — Friday, April 20, 2012

    The surge in stock prices around the world in the first quarter serves as a reminder that predicting market trends can be a frustrating business. Six months ago, the outlook for stock prices appeared to be fading from grim to grimmer: Congressional leaders were wrangling ...Read More

  • Exchange-Traded Notes: We Hate to Say We Told You so, but….

    by IFA Contributors — Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Exchange-traded notes (ETNs) are unsecured-debt instruments that track an index, currency, or a commodity price. According to Morningstar, there are now (as of 2/12/2012) 209 ETNs that hold a total of $17.4 billion in assets, and most of them have appeared in just the last five ...Read More

  • How I made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market

    by IFA Contributors — Thursday, March 29, 2012

    OK, I confess! I did not make $2 million in the stock market, but that title did catch your attention, did it not? How I made $2,000,000 in the Stock Market is one of the antique books in finance recently acquired by IFA’s ...Read More

  • Betting vs. Investing: What We Can Learn from March Madness

    by IFA Contributors — Thursday, March 22, 2012

    At Index Funds Advisors, Inc., we often get to see how other people are invested before they become IFA clients. If one of these prospects were to tell us that they own commodity futures as part of their investment portfolio, we would stop them dead in their tracks and inform ...Read More

  • Where the Money Grows

    by IFA Contributors — Wednesday, March 21, 2012

    “The easiest way into Wall Street is by the Hall of Delusions through which many have entered who forgot to return. That door stands always wide open. No legend of warning affronts the eye. There ought to be one, and it should read: ‘No Safe Conduct ...Read More

  • MF Global and the Meaning of Chutzpah

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Like schlemiel and schlimazel, chutzpah is one of those Yiddish words that lacks a good English counterpart. A good example of it is the old joke about the guy who kills his parents and then demands leniency because he is now an ...Read More

  • Escaping From the Great Vampire Squid

    by IFA Contributors — Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    As a blogger, sometimes there is a dearth of topics to write about, and sometimes Christmas comes early. My benefactor for today is Greg Smith, a former executive director at Goldman Sachs who tendered his resignation as an ...Read More

  • The Sizzle or the Steak: Exotic Market-Linked CDs

    by Roger Trinwith — Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    With investors scouring the metaphorical earth and turning over its rocks for “safe” investments that provide yields in excess of inflation, it comes as no surprise that Investment Banks have started selling record numbers of exotic market linked Certificates of ...Read More

  • Can You Pay an Active Manager to Beat the Market for You?

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    When was the last time you walked into Wal-Mart and found $20 bills on sale for $10? I am guessing never. It might not occur to you that your hope of finding a manager with true skill (i.e., the ability to deliver a consistently higher return than the market) who is willing to ...Read More

  • Weston Wellington

    Who Has the Midas Touch?

    by Weston Wellington — Thursday, February 23, 2012

    Over the course of a lengthy and illustrious business career, Warren Buffett has offered thoughtful opinions on a wide variety of investment-related issues—executive compensation, accounting standards, high-yield bonds, derivatives, stock options, and so ...Read More

  • The End of Wall Street as We Know It—And We Feel Fine

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    Lately there has been a great deal of news coverage of the ever-shrinking pool of bonuses awarded to the traders and investment bankers of the too-big-to-fail Wall Street firms. At UBS, for example, certain highly compensated employees will have to face the indignity of having ...Read More

  • Tough Times for American Funds

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    According to a recent report from Morningstar, 2011 was yet another banner year for the ascendancy of passive investing. Index mutual funds received net inflows of $76 billion, and exchange-traded funds which are primarily passive received $121 billion. Actively managed funds, ...Read More

  • Brad Steiman

    Paradox of Skill

    by Brad Steiman — Monday, February 6, 2012

    Manager selection is a process that requires analyzing noisy performance data, so it should lean heavily on the notion of statistical ...Read More

  • Just How Skilled of a Manager Picker Do You Need to Be?

    by IFA Contributors — Friday, February 3, 2012

    At Index Funds Advisors, Inc. we often refer to the proverbial monkey throwing darts at the stock pages of the Wall Street Journal and how active fund managers as a group have had about the same overall success as the monkey at beating the market. Case in point, the average ...Read More

  • Morningstar's Manager of the Year: Luck or Skill?

    by IFA Contributors — Thursday, February 2, 2012

    Unfortunately for them, investors are constantly bombarded with advertisements, market commentaries, and screaming magazine covers telling them what they should do with their money. Contributing to all the clamor and din is Morningstar’s annual announcement of their awards ...Read More

  • Jim Parker

    Hedge of Darkness

    by Jim Parker — Thursday, January 19, 2012

    It's true. Big money can be made from hedge funds. If you run one, that ...Read More

  • Tilting Towards Small Cap Stocks: Is It Still Worthwhile?

    by IFA Contributors — Friday, January 13, 2012

    To summarize, the question an investor should ask is not "should I be in large caps or small caps?" but rather "what is a sensible blend of large and small companies that will allow me to capture a risk premium without being tempted to sell out of my portfolio when it performs ...Read More

  • Weston Wellington

    Year-End Review

    by Weston Wellington — Monday, January 9, 2012

    Equity investors around the world had a disappointing year in 2011 as thirty-seven out of forty-five markets tracked by MSCI posted negative returns. The US did well on a relative basis and was the only major market to achieve a positive total return, although the margin of ...Read More

  • Bryan Harris

    2011 Review: Economy and Markets

    by Bryan Harris — Monday, January 9, 2012

    The past year reminded investors that they should hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and be thankful when reality does not match their fears. Investors entered 2011 with hopes that the world economy would continue recovering from a long and painful deleveraging process. ...Read More

  • 2011: The Year in Review

    by IFA Contributors — Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Unlike 2009 and 2010, 2011 was a year in which most risks were not rewarded. It is important to bear in mind that if risk were rewarded every year, it wouldn’t be risk and investors would have no right to expect a positive real return. One of the noteworthy events that ...Read More

  • Mark Hebner

    Tax Loss Harvesting [VIDEO]

    by Mark Hebner — Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    In addition to rebalancing, taxable investors should also consider a tax-savings tool called tax loss ...Read More

  • Reaching for Yield: Preferred Stock

    by IFA Contributors — Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    In this continuing series exploring different ways investors might attempt to increase the annual income received from their portfolios, we look at preferred stock, a special equity security that has properties of both equity and debt instruments. In general, preferred ...Read More

  • Hedge Funds on Edge

    by IFA Contributors — Monday, December 12, 2011

    A recent article in the Economist, “Dazed and Confused”, details what a difficult year 2011 has been for the $1.9 trillion hedge fund industry. The average hedge fund has fallen by around 9% this year compared ...Read More

  • Reaching for Yield: High-Yield Mortgage REITs

    by IFA Contributors — Monday, December 12, 2011

    In this continuing series exploring different ways investors might attempt to increase the annual income received from their portfolios, we look at mortgage real estate investment trusts (REITs). A REIT is a security that sells like a stock and invests in real estate either ...Read More

  • International Diversification: Is It Still Worthwhile?

    by IFA Contributors — Thursday, December 8, 2011

    With all the recent turmoil in Europe, Index Funds Advisors, Inc. has received questions from clients regarding whether there is still an expected benefit from international diversification in equities. In 2011, international and emerging markets indexes lagged behind their ...Read More