Archive for December, 2009

November Monthly Commentary

Take a look at a recent monthly commentary from Legg Mason Capital Management.   Here’s an excerpt from the report:

Before closing, we’d like to leave our readers with two views of the market—the inside view and the outside view—and let each reader decide which is the more relevant framework for investing. The inside view says that the market can’t go up because our current circumstances are too perilous and uncertain. The laundry list of worries has been well chronicled by the media: a still-fragile financial system, a likely sub-par economic recovery, yawning budget and trade deficits, a vulnerable dollar, threats from both inflationary and deflationary forces, high and still-rising unemployment, continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nuclear saber-rattling by Iran, massive funding requirements for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, the burden of health care reform and a probable rise in tax rates. Yada, Yada! It’s a wonder any of us can get ourselves out of bed in the morning.

The outside view says, yes, we’ve got plenty of things to worry about, but that’s been true throughout history. Worries, concerns and problems are always an unavoidable part of the investment landscape, just as they are an unavoidable part of life. The outside view asks us to look past the current situation at the bigger picture. Over the longterm, stocks have been great wealth builders. This has been especially true after they have suffered extended periods of poor performance, such as the 10-year period we have just witnessed. To be more specific, according to data compiled by Jeremy Siegel at the University of Pennsylvania, stocks have provided average annual real returns (after inflation) of 6.66% for all 10-year periods going back to 1871. There have been fourteen 10-year periods, including the current one, where stock returns were negative. In every one of the previous 13 instances, the subsequent 10-year returns have averaged 10% real, about 50% better than the long-term average, and more than twice the return of bonds.

With funds currently flowing out of domestic equity mutual funds and pouring into bond funds, investors are being overwhelmingly influenced by the inside view. We think they are making a big mistake.

December 18, 2009 at 7:18 am Leave a comment

A Drop in Unemployment

Today, we had some really good news on unemployment.   Contrary to predictions of rising to 10.5% or even 11% rate, it unexpectedly dropped to 10%.  The economy did lose 11,000 jobs last month, but as you can see from the graph, it was the smallest amount since the recession began, and considerably smaller than estimated 125,000 loss.

The government also revised job loss amounts for the previous months downward.  If this trend continues, there is a very good chance that we will see job creation as soon as the end of this year or in January.

More details in this CNN Money article.

December 4, 2009 at 8:07 pm Leave a comment


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Leon Shirman's long-term investment philosophy is summarized in his book, “42 Rules for Sensible Investing”, also available from Amazon.

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