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Brain Tricks May Reduce Your Returns

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What if you could create a forum for discussing the best way to invest in a responsible and intelligent manner? Who would you invite to participate in this debate? Here are my suggestions: There would be no shortage of candidates to advocate stock picking, market timing and fund manager selection. Jim Cramer, for example, could…

Listen to Your Brain to Sense a Market Correction

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The financial media continues to stoke anxiety and fear — and trading — with “news” about a coming market correction. On its list of “must reads” for July 16, Yahoo Finance featured these articles: “Investors haven’t been this optimistic since 1987. Here’s why that’s bad.” “This could be a big problem for stocks.” Sometimes these…

Ignore the Babble Masking as “Financial News”

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You are besieged with a daily onslaught of what passes for “financial news.” Much of it is nonsense, self-serving and unreliable. Yet the sheer volume, and the clever way it is packaged and disseminated, may lead you to take action. Here are two categories of typical financial news, with my suggestion for how to evaluate…

Three Facts You Don’t Know About Mutual Funds

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Mutual funds are a huge and profitable business. According to the Investment Company Institute, at the end of 2013, $30 trillion worldwide was invested in these funds. More than half that amount was invested by approximately 96 million Americans in U.S.-based funds. U.S. retirement market assets are an estimated $23 trillion, and most of those investments…

The Great American Pension Rip-Off

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Unless you work for a city or state government, you probably don’t have a traditional pension — also known as a “defined benefit plan.” The number of employers offering these plans has decreased sharply, and now, by some estimates, only 29 percent of workers in the United States have access to them. In contrast, 83 percent…

Canadian Investors Are (Mostly) Losers

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I have nothing but great respect and admiration for our neighbors up north. If you spend any time in Canada, you will be struck by the kindness, civility and charm of its people. Canadians enjoy long life expectancy, high average incomes and extensive social ties. The country ranks very highly on lists of the world’s happiest citizens,…

A Sad Cautionary Tale of Fraud

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Recently, an adviser told me how one of his clients was scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by his son. Let’s call the client “Bill,” the son “Robert,” the adviser “Phil” and the advisory firm “Registered.” Phil works on a team at Registered with another wealth adviser and a portfolio manager. All three interact…

A Cheap Investment That Could Return Millions

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In 2006, I wrote The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read. Prior to that time, many investment books were long and mind-numbing, filled with charts, and intended to make investing so complex that readers would be incentivized to consult with the author or other financial experts. Smartest Investment broke the mold. It was short and pithy. It…

Investing Lessons From the Donald Sterling Saga

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According to the Law Blog on The Wall Street Journal website, controversial Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has retained Maxwell Blecher, a highly respected Los Angeles antitrust lawyer in his fight against the NBA. (Full disclosure: I have enjoyed a personal and professional relationship with Mr. Blecher for many years.) It’s not surprising that Mr. Sterling would elect…

Learn Investing Tips From Property Transfers

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Sometimes, valuable insights about investing can be derived from unlikely sources. According to published reports, the largest home purchase in U.S. history recently closed. The property is an 18-acre estate located in East Hampton, N.Y. The purchase price was an astounding $147 million. Was the purchaser a famous industrialist? The inventor of an amazing new product?…

A Tale of Two Investors

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This is a tale of two fictional investors, Paul and Mary. They approach investing very differently. I suspect you will be able to identify with one of them, and perhaps learn something from both. Both Paul and Mary are deeply troubled by market volatility. They are still scarred by the market crash in 2008-2009. They…

Make the “Rigged” Markets Work for You

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The recent appearance by Michael Lewis on 60 Minutes and the publication of his book Flash Boys has generated a furor over the perceived inequities of high-frequency trading. The idea that those engaged in high-frequency trading are permitted to “see” your trades, purchase stock ahead of your order and resell it to you at a higher price is clearly…

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