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The Biggest Market Myth

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Particularly in times of extreme volatility, pundits come out of the woodwork to “explain” to the rest of us the reasons underlying the rise or fall of the stock market. For example, how many times have you seen articles attributing recent market declines to a drop in oil prices? I suspect if you polled investors,…

Terrible Advice in Tough Times

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It’s sad that terrible advice is so freely dispensed in tough times. Investors are at their most vulnerable, reeling from the market selloff. Many in the financial media see this as an opportunity to boost ratings and generate revenue for the big brokerage firms that support them with huge advertising budgets. They seem indifferent to…

‘The Big Short’: A Big Wake-Up Call

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I agree with the glowing reviews of The Big Short. The film does a wonderful job of exposing the mendacity of the financial industry and the role it played in almost causing a worldwide economic collapse. Its depiction of Wall Street as infested with greed, devoid of ethics and indifferent to the real-life consequences of…

What Warren Buffett Isn’t Doing

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I don’t know Warren Buffett. I didn’t interview him for this article. But I’m pretty sure I know what he isn’t doing to cope with the worst first four trading days in history for the S&P 500 index to begin a calendar year. Buffett isn’t listening to pundits on TV The financial media loves market…

The Core of Wall Street Is Rotten

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I remember feeling repulsed when I first read that Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, raised the price of its proprietary drug, Daraprim, by 5,000 percent. This increase caused the price of each pill to go from $13.50 to $750. At the time, I did some research on the disease that Daraprim is prescribed to…

Compelling Employees to Make Bad Choices

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I don’t want to rehash all the reasons for my view that investors should avoid actively managed funds, expensive, complex investment products and “alternative investments” like hedge funds and private equity. If you find these investments suitable, you have every right to buy them. Special issues with 401(k) plan participants Employees with 401(k) plans, however,…

A Game You Shouldn’t Play

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It seems like almost every week a new study appears to debunk the myth of active management. This week was no exception. Robin Powell, a U.K.-based journalist and financial blogger, discussed a recent study that covered 561 U.K.-based stock funds between 1998 and 2008. The study’s findings were consistent with similar research done on funds…

Buy This Annuity So I Can Take a Cruise

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The current controversy over the proposal by the U.S. Department of Labor to impose a fiduciary standard on those who advise retirement plans has little to do with the rule’s merit. Rather, I believe it’s at issue because stockbrokers are the beneficiaries of a cozy system that permits them to have conflicts of interest which…

Collapsing Arguments for Conflicted Advice

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I had an interesting experience recently. I gave a talk to a group of investors. In the audience were a few brokers. My presentation consisted of two basic points: 1. Send an email to your broker or financial advisor and ask them simply to confirm that they will always put your interests above their own…

A Hidden Risk You Never Saw Coming

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Ken Griffin is a hedge fund manager with an enviable net worth of $7 billion. According to published reports, he recently settled a contentious divorce dispute with his wife, Anne Dias Griffin, shortly before it was scheduled to go to trial. There was a lot at stake. His wife claimed Griffin earned an unbelievable $100…

Hedge Fund Myths and Misdeeds

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If anyone could demonstrate expertise in “beating the market,” you would think it would be hedge fund managers. They get paid hefty fees (often 2 percent of assets under management plus 20 percent of profits) to generate “alpha.” Successful hedge fund managers make obscene amounts of money. The top hedge fund managers earned in excess…

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