November 1, 2023

By David Snowball

Dear friends,

Happy New Year! And oíche Shamhna shona duit!

November 1st is Samhain (pronounced “sow-in” in case you’re curious), the traditional beginning of the new year in Gaelic culture. It’s proceeded not only by Samhain Eve but also by … well, three days of drinking. And then followed by three days of regretting it, at least a little.

Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the onset of “the darker half” of the year, a time of increasing isolation and decreasing food stocks. It made all the sense in the world to do what people do in the face of adversity: throw a big communal gathering, feast, and dress up in scary costumes, and tell the agents of darkness to go Continue reading →

Investing Beyond The Great Distortion

By David Snowball

Devesh Shah and David Sherman engaged in a free-range conversation that touched on benchmark-free investing over hot drinks and fresh pastries. Benchmark-free investing starts with the question, “If you simply didn’t care about ‘the conventional wisdom’ concerning which assets you were supposed to own, what assets would you own?”

Mr. Sherman and Oaktree’s Howard Marks seem to endorse the same conclusion: “likely high-yield bond, surely not stocks.” That’s certainly contrary to conventional wisdom, which is centered on Continue reading →

Hot Coffee and Hot Chocolate – A Brunch and Walk with David Sherman

By Devesh Shah

The leaves are turning crimson and gold in Central Park. On the Upper West Side, surrounding the American Museum of Natural History, are oak trees. They line the pedestrian walkway and are swinging to the rhythm of a light chill wind, marking the beginning of fall in New York. Acorns and dry leaves crunch under our feet. There is a farmer’s market which starts on 81st and Columbus Avenue, continues down to 77th Street, and then wraps around the museum to Central Park West. Varied hot dogs, kababs, and coffee carts line the path where the farmer’s market ends. It’s not your standard Broadway street fair with trinkets; it’s a proper market where locals get their meat and vegetable shopping done for the week. The first stand on Columbus is Continue reading →

Short-Term Market Momentum

By Charles Lynn Bolin

The S&P 500 has fallen from 4,598 on July 27th of this year to 4,117 on October 28th for a decline of 10.5%, while yields on the ten-year Treasury have risen from 4.01% to 4.85% for a rise of 20.9%. The Fidelity Intermediate Treasury Bond Index (FUAMX) has had a price decline of 4% during this three-month period. I expected a larger decline in the S&P 500 and a lower rise in yields. Money market yields are hovering around 5%, and “cash is king.”

Economic growth is robust, along with relatively stable employment, while inflation Continue reading →

Fire-and-Forget Gone Wrong: First Foundation Total Return

By David Snowball

In the military realm, “fire and forget” designates a weapon that you don’t need to think about once it’s been launched. In investing, “fire and forget” could be used to describe several sorts of mistakes centering on our impulse to look away once we’ve made a decision. One of those mistakes is to buy a fund (presumably for a good reason), then sell it (presumably for a good reason), and then never re-examine your decision.

Managers – both corporate and fund – make mistakes. You can’t avoid it. They can’t. The best of them realize it, learn from it, correct it, and return to doing fine work. After inheriting Continue reading →

fountain pen writing a note

Briefly Noted

By TheShadow


Matthews Asia has named Sean Taylor as its incoming chief investment officer, taking over from Robert Horrocks at the start of next year. Taylor was CIO for Asia Pacific and head of emerging markets at DWS and will assume his new role at Matthews on January 1, 2024. Mr. Horrocks, who has been with Matthews Asia since 2008, will retain his portfolio management responsibilities, which include Matthews Asia Dividend and Matthews Asian Growth & Income.

Matthews hired a new CIO, Cooper Abbott, in the summer of 2022. Since then, the firm has undergone Continue reading →