Sunday, April 05, 2009
There didn't seem to be a whole lot going on in Barron's this weekend but there was one article, that I only skimmed, about problems that investment funds for the cities of San Francisco and San Jose are having with some sort of stable value product from ING. I'm not too interested in the particulars but the problems lie with the book value of the contracts being worth less than some sort of market value.
The important thing is a reiteration of how important it is to just keep things simple. Some stocks (or stock funds), some bonds (or bond funds) and if you use a couple of "new" asset classes but access them via exchange traded products you are going to have very few, if any, structural/functional problems. Portfolio life is much easier if all you have to worry about being right or wrong about the market as opposed to also having to worry about your product functioning properly.
One reader asked about the Canadian hydro stocks that I wrote about a couple of times in the past and whether I thought buying them directly in Canada was better than buying them through a US brokerage account. My own preference is that whenever possible I would not want to open an new account anything I might want to buy. If you buy a foreign stocks (ADR or ordinary share) you are getting the currency exposure--that is that if the currency goes up against the green back you benefit everything else being equal. I don't see the need for separate account for Canadian investment vehicles.
Another reader asked what, if any, sectors (or groups) might indicate a recovery in the making. Well the timing of the question is amusing because I had an article run at TSCM on Friday that addressed two of them; copper and semiconductors. Both parts of the market have turned up but have done so slowly over several months without doing so in panic. As more of a this is how the market usually works indicator this is positive. It of course may not carry the day but it is a positive nonetheless.
Long time readers may know I enjoy writing about off the wall retirement ideas. I believe the willingness to think about and implement retirement differently will be crucial to a successful retirement. To that point have you seen those commercials for the texting service KGB? You have a question, you text it in and for $0.99 they give you an answer. I don't know any of the numbers but the first time I saw one of their commercials I thought working for them, probably from home, answering questions could be a decent gig. It turns out their "agents" do work from and I get the impression from the web site that the company is hiring.
I always say we should be willing to work at least part time in retirement to which someone will correctly counter that not everyone can. Working from home with something like this is doable for many (I realize not all) who cannot work outside the home. Obviously today's 50 and 60 year olds are more technically savvy than past generations of 50 and 60 year olds so someone who is 57 today could easily know how to do something like this when they are 70. Also obvious, there are plenty of folks 70 and above right now who are plenty tech savvy for something like this.
Yesterday, between the college lacrosse and MSU/UConn game I watched about ten minutes of Primera Division Uruguaya futbol--did I mention Directv has a lot of channels? Yesterday's game was between Defensor Sporting and Nacional de Montevideo. The Primera Division has 16 teams, so I'm thinking a 16 year old kid who starts for his highschool team has a pretty good shot of making the pros.
Why bring up Uruguay? I mentioned a few months ago as one of these expat havens where you can buy a 10,000 square foot house for $20,000 and pay full time servants $8 a month. Well those numbers might be off by a tad but Uruguay does get some attention in this regard. While I doubt we are going anywhere there is something intriguing about the idea.
We got some pretty good final four hoops last night but Jim Nantz + Clark Kellog = Zero Chemistry, listening to them is not good.
The picture is obviously from Fenway Park, it is from my holy pilgrimage there last summer. Opening day is tonight and more broadly tomorrow. Nice.